Wednesday, April 28, 2010

European Airspace Rebooted

Lately one of my favorite time wasting web sites has become  This site shows live aircraft traffic in the airspace above Europe.  You can see maps showing the current position of each plane, as well as the airports on the ground.  It also allows you to monitor the altitude of each aircraft as well as see the call sign of every object in the air.

As you can imagine, this site really caught my eye over the last couple of weeks as air traffic around Iceland came to a grinding halt as a result of volcanic ash in the atmosphere.  The folks at ITO World found a way to visualize the impact of the volcano on flight traffic as a result of the volcano.  They created the video below which shows the return to regular flight patterns and schedules following the clearance to begin flying again on April 18th.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A New Redskins Era Has Begun

Donovan McNabb has been working out at the Redskin’s facility in Ashburn for the last couple of weeks.  I drive past that facility every day on my way to and from work, and each day there is a bit of a traffic slow-down on my way home as the Redskins players are pulling into traffic.  Although I haven’t seen McNabb yet, I did see that the Redskins have released the photos below of him in his new team colors.


Monday, April 26, 2010

Top 10 Low Pass Flybys

Maybe it’s just because I am a guy, or maybe it’s that part of me will never grow-up, but one of my favorite things in the world is a military low pass fly-by.  It’s the thing I can’t wait for at Nascar races, and the one element that I look forward to for weeks before an air show.


The video below is a compilation of the top 10 low pass flybys that have been seen on the internet over the past 5 years.  I smile at each and every one of them.  :-)


Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Arrival of Florida One

In case anyone reading this hasn’t heard of Southwest Airlines, they are a US-based low-cost air carrier based out of Dallas, TX.  Southwest Airlines is actually the largest airline in the world by number of passengers carried annually and they differentiate themselves from other US air carriers in the following ways:

  • Fly a large fleet of planes (actually the 3rd largest in the world), but only one model (the Boeing 737)
  • Boarding process is broken into 3 groups, which are populated on a first come first served basis
  • Seats are un-assigned, so your group will dictate how many seat options are available to you
  • Flight attendant uniforms are much more casual (golf shirts and shorts/khaki pants

Southwest also maintains a regional connection to multiple customer bases by painting custom paint schemes on planes that travel frequently within regions.  Below are several images of these custom paint schemes:

Shamu                                                       Arizona One

California One                                       Lonestar One

                  Illinois One                                                Maryland One


Nevada One                                     New Mexico One

Southwest Airlines added a new plane with a custom paint scheme recently.   That new plane is Florida 1.  In acknowledgement of the attention that these paint schemes have received, Southwest filmed the assembly and paint process of this latest addition.  Check out the time lapsed film below:

Friday, April 23, 2010

Rain Delay Antics

A rain delay ahead of last weekend’s baseball game between Western Kentucky and Florida Atlantic afforded the two teams an opportunity to put on an entirely different show, complete with skits, dance-offs, an a faux-wrestling match. Some baseball was eventually played, but it’s rather doubtful anyone cared.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

It’s all about the Benjamin’s

The most-widely counterfeited bill in the world is getting a new look.  The U.S. Department of Treasury unveiled the newly designed $100 bill Wednesday, with additional security features aimed at making it even tougher to counterfeit the bill.

The new bill will go into circulation in February, 2011.  New features include a 3-D security ribbon and a high-tech color changing image of a bell and inkwell. Benjamin Franklin's portrait on the front is larger, and the back of the bill shows the rear of Independence Hall. Current $100 bills show the front of the historic building.

"The new security features announced today come after more than a decade of research and development to protect our currency from counterfeiting," said treasurer Rosie Rios. "To ensure a seamless introduction of the new $100 note into the financial system., we will conduct a global public education program to ensure that users of U.S. currency are aware of the new security features."

North American Broadband Adoption

This morning I came across Akamai’s Q4 State of the Internet report. As the name suggests this is a quarterly report that is generated to demonstrate metrics based trend across the entire internet.  Below is one of the more interesting charts, North American Broadband Adoption.akamai.jpg

As the scale indicates, broadband adoption is heaviest on both coasts of the US, with the mountainous west being late adopters.  This may speak more to the geographic obstacles related to laying fiber than anything else, as I cannot imaging that the high demand in Kentucky or Tennessee would exist had it not been for the fact that fiber runs most likely crossed those areas when linking metro areas like Chicago and Dallas to the east coast.

The following is an excerpt from an ARS Technica analysis of this report by Nate Anderson:

If you want the fastest average broadband speed in the world, don't move to Japan. Instead, buckle up your Birkenstocks and pile into the VW Bus, because it's time for a road trip to Berkeley, California, home of the fastest average Internet speeds on earth.

This nugget of data comes courtesy of the most recent State of the Internet report from Akamai Technologies, which collects and analyzes a unique data set of worldwide speeds and IP address usage. When all of the company's speed data was sorted by city, three US locations top the list before South Korea and Japan begin to dominate.

Those three spots are Berkeley (average speed: 18.7Mbps), Chapel Hill, North Carolina (average speed: 17.5Mbps), and Stanford, California (average speed: 17.0Mbps). The next US city on the list is Durham, North Carolina (average speed: 13.6Mbps) in eighth place, followed by Ithaca, New York; Ann Arbor, Michigan; College Station, Texas; Urbana, Illinois; Cambridge, Massachusetts; University Park, Pennsylvania; and East Lansing, Michigan.

If you're not from the US, you might not see the pattern: each of these cities houses a major research university. Akamai obtained these results by filtering out all cities with less than 50,000 unique IP addresses, to make sure that the averages weren't affected by outlying small cities. The result was that "so-called 'college towns' are some of the best connected in the United States."

Monday, April 19, 2010

That’s one way to get a close-up!

Will and Matthew Burrard-Lucas have discovered a way to get close-up photos of African wildlife without risking life or limb. The brothers rigged a Canon EOS 400D camera to a remote-control car, and cruised it around Tanzania.

Will and Matthew have even chronicled the adventure on their blog,

Will and Matthew took a basic four-wheeled robotic chassis, and reinforced it with bigger tires to cope with the rugged African terrain. With a few hacks and a tripod plate, the brothers rigged the camera to operate with the same remote controller that's used to navigate the buggy. They even managed to install different flashes on the vehicle. They used the 'BeetleCam' to get some downright amazing shots of lions, elephants, zebras, water buffalo and more. Plus, the robobuggy lets the brothers take close-ups without losing the landscape in the background, which often happens when photographers use telephoto lenses to safely shoot from afar.

The largest setback occurred when a pride of lions took offense to the Wall-E-like robotic camera, and carried it off into the bush. However, the boys recovered the memory card -- even though the camera was mauled -- and saved some photos. That sucks, sure, but a busted camera definitely beats losing your arm or getting trampled to pieces.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Millennium Ale

When I first moved to Virginia in 2001, I was quickly introduced to Old Dominion Brewery by some friends.  Old Dominion had one of it’s brewery's very close to my office, so it’s Ale’s, Lager’s and Porter’s were all over the area.  Even in large franchise restaurants would carry their Lager’s under their own name.  In the Washington Metro area you could order Friday’s Lager at TGI Friday’s restaurants.  Friday’s Lager was simply Old Dominion Lager served in TGI Friday’s glasses.


Back in the day, the Old Dominion Brewery near my office used to have a sampling bar inside of it.  There you could order a special brew called “Millennium Ale” which had an alcohol content of 10.5% which is very high for any beer.  That became a favorite of mine in the colder months as it was made with honey and was too heavy for me to drink in the warmer months, but was perfect in the cold.


That local Brewery closed down in 2008 as the economy was falling.  Since then I hadn’t seen Millennium Ale...until a couple months ago when I saw it in a Wegmans grocery store.  Today I am happy to say that Millennium Ale can be found in bottles in most any grocery store in Northern Virginia.  Woo Hoo!


Now I just need to wait for next winter to really be able to enjoy it.  :-)

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Caps Celebrate The Presidents' Trophy

Tonight the Washington Capitals were presented with the NHL Presidents’ Trophy before their game against the Atlanta Thrashers.  The Presidents’ Trophy is awarded every year to the team with the highest point total.  The Caps clinched this a couple days ago when they beat the Boston Bruins.


Below is the video that was played at the Verizon Center before the trophy was awarded.  This video highlighting some moments of the season thus far.


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Lunch at Michael Symon’s Lola

After a long week of funeral services, and carrying out estate plans Barbie, Sue, Mike and I decided to treat ourselves to something special.  A meal at Michael Symon’s Cleveland restaurant, Lola. Michael Symon’s notoriety sky rocketed a couple years ago when he won Food Network’s Next Iron Chef competition.  However, even with that additional fame he still maintains three restaurants only in the Cleveland area.

Barbie, Sue and I met Mike downtown for lunch.  I wasn’t sure what to expect, so when we walked in the first thing that caught my eye was the bar, and the beautiful wine racks behind it.

As we walked into the dining room, the open kitchen grabbed my attention.  The entire kitchen is visible to the dining room.  Lola uses a classical French Brigade technique in the kitchen, so every dish is prepared when ordered (with the exception of those that require a stock that requires days of preparation).  If you notice, there are no heat lamps or salamanders', which impressed all four of us.

By the end of our meals, we all had enjoyed wonderful appetizers, entrees and desserts.  The food was wonderful, surprisingly well priced, and very filling.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Grandma's Funeral

Today was my Grandma’s funeral.  It was a small, very private service as she wanted.  The services were somber, but everyone kept their heads high as she told so many of us when my Grandpa died that funerals are about celebrating someone’s life not mourning their death.

At her service, she asked for the following poem to be read:

When I come to the end of the road,

And the sun has set for me.

I want no tears in a gloom filled room.

Why cry for a soul set free?


Miss me a little but not too much.

And not with head bowed low.

Remember the love that we once shared.

Miss me, but let me go.


For this is a journey, we all must take.

And each must go alone.

Its all part of the master’s plan.

A step on the road to home.


When you are lonely and sick of heart,

Go to the friends we know.

And bury your sorrows in doing good deeds,

Miss me, but let me go.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Grandma Passed Away

Shortly after 6am this morning my cousin Sue called to tell me that my Grandma passed away.  The surgical procedure went as planned with the triple bypass and heart valve replacement being successful.  However, her lung began bleeding and the doctors could not get it to stop.

She never came out of anesthesia, so I hope she didn’t feel any pain.  My cousin and my aunt were with her in the hospital at the end.  For that I am eternally thankful.

Barbie and I will being making plans to get to Ohio shortly so that we can be with family and attend her funeral services.  :-(